Hard forks have something of a bad reputation. On the surface they’re little more than blockchain project updates, the equivalent of a new version release. But because of events like the Bitcoin/Bitcoin Cash split, whenever uninformed crypto investors see a hard fork ahead, they enter panic mode.
Hard forks are normal, healthy events in a blockchain project’s life cycle. Ethereum has regular hard forks as part of its roadmap, as do other cryptocurrencies. No matter how much planning or education goes into them, though, it’s not uncommon to see price fluctuations or other drama when an altcoin goes through a hard fork.
Monero has a hard fork scheduled for the end of March 2018. This scheduled hard fork has seen a handful of fake coins and scam airdrops, all ready to take advantage of Monero holders who don’t do their research. Below, we take a look at the Monero fork and some of the unfortunate buzz that surrounds it.
Forks in the cryptocurrency world represent a point in the development cycle when the blockchain splits in two. From a user’s perspective, you can think of them as a planned upgrade, one that can include backward compatibility (soft forks) or represent an irreversible shift in the underlying structure of the blockchain (hard forks).
Hard forks are a bigger deal than soft forks, mainly because transactions made after the fork are not compatible with the old blockchain. This means that miners and wallet holders will need to update their software to keep using the currency.
When a hard fork occurs, the coin usually continues forward without showing obvious signs of internal changes. Transactions are carried out, hodlers sit atop their hoards, no big deal. Other times significant shifts are introduced, including new coins based on the old blockchain’s code.
The classic example of this is Bitcoin spawning Bitcoin Cash, a move that still sparks hot debate across the web.
What You Need to Know About the Monero Hard Fork
Monero’s development team has hard forks scheduled approximately every six months. The March 2018 fork isn’t out of the ordinary, and no drastic changes are being introduced, especially not a new coin. In fact, some of the Monero community wants to call these hard forks “network upgrades” to help keep hysteria to a minimum.
In general, Monero’s hard forks introduce new security features and protocol changes. This one adds some important proof-of-work changes to help maintain ASIC resistance, which has been part of the development team’s roadmap all along.
One reason this Monero fork has gotten extra attention is due to coin scams when a few hard fork projects appeared. Through a combination of sloppy journalism and copy/paste social media sharing, these projects have became synonymous with the original Monero, prompting a lot of users to falsely believe their beloved cryptocurrency was splitting like Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash did.
Monero and Not Monero
The biggest bit of drama surrounding the March 2018 hard fork didn’t come from the Monero community or the Monero developers. It has come from MoneroV. This project appeared just as talk of the actual Monero fork started to pick up, promising a finite coin cap and a 10x airdrop to Monero holders.
Here’s the thing about MoneroV, though: it has nothing to do with Monero or the Monero team.
In an interview with BTCManager, Monero’s Justin Ehrenhofer stated quite clearly:
The people behind MoneroV are likely scammers or attackers.
The official Monero Twitter account also released a statement reiterating they have nothing to do with MoneroV. As far as anyone can tell, the project exists simply to get Monero holders’ private keys.
There’s also a lighter side to the hard fork drama. WOWNERO isn’t actually an altcoin, it didn’t try to scam anyone, and it’s not even a real project. It’s just a website that pokes fun at the hysteria. Take three seconds to look at the page and you’ll smirk.
What to Do After the Monero Fork
Here’s a comprehensive list of everything you need to do after Monero’s hard fork:
- Update your mining software or Monero wallet.
Unless the Monero team specifically states otherwise, the only thing you’ll ever need to do is make a small software update. There will be no new Monero coin to switch to. There are no airdrops or free coins to snag. All you need to do is keep using Monero as a digital currency or hodl to your heart’s content.
As a general rule, any hard fork claiming to be a “new” Monero is either an unofficial project or a straight-up ruse to steal your digital currency.
Avoiding Hard Fork Scams
Because Monero and other blockchain projects are open source, anyone can technically start their own hard fork. There are good forks and bad forks, useful ones and completely pointless ones. As long as you don’t interact with these fake forks, your coins are safe. Be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true.
Staying informed is your best weapon against any kind of crypto scam. Monero has a great community and the dev team runs an official blog and Twitter account. The Monero subreddit is also a great place to go for official information and level-headed discussions about events.